Haein Lee: “Not being able to go to the Beijing Olympics became the driving force for development.”
Interview with Haein Lee about this season.
source: mk.co.kr dd. 7th April 2023 by Lee Yong-ik
When interviewed at the office of her agency, All That Sports, Lee Haein responded with a smile and laughter when congratulated on her silver medal. When asked if she felt disappointed for not winning the gold, she opened her eyes wide and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I didn’t even think I would win a medal, so receiving the silver was like a dream come true.” She continued, “I struggled in the early part of the season and even started to doubt if there was any hope. I decided to give it my all at the Four Continents Championships and the World Championships, and fortunately, it turned out well.” Lee Haein, who won the gold at the Four Continents Championships, regained her confidence and delivered a clean performance at the recent World Championships, whispering to herself, “Let’s do as well as at the Four Continents,” after returning home.
The World Championships medal, the first in 10 years since Kim Yuna, still leaves her in awe. Shyly, Lee Haein expressed, “After returning home, I went to the supermarket with a friend, and someone recognized me and asked for a photo. I hope that someday I will also become as popular as Junhwan.”
The joy of winning this medal after enduring hardships is even greater. Lee Haein first put on skates in a weekend hobby class in first grade of elementary school and stood out as a promising skater, winning two consecutive titles at the Junior Grand Prix. However, she faced struggles after transitioning to the senior stage. In 2019, she suffered from a stress fracture in her ankle, and especially before the Beijing Winter Olympics, she couldn’t overcome her poor condition, missing the chance to secure one of the top two spots and qualify for the Olympics, which was a heartbreaking moment for her.
Regarding this, Lee Haein showed a dignified appearance and said, “I feel a sense of happiness because I know how hard my teammates have worked.” She also confessed that such competitions became a driving force for her own improvement. Lee Haein said, “Not only Kim Yuna but also Lim Eunsoo, Kim Yerim, You Young, and other older female skaters whom I have admired since I was young. I want to learn a lot from Eunsoo’s expressiveness, Yerim’s mindset in handling tension, and Young’s speed,” she said.
I wondered if she felt regretful for missing out on the joy of school life due to focusing on skating, but it seems that it’s not a problem for her. She responded with a question, “When I go to the ice rink, the time is divided according to the schedule, and it feels like the school bell ringing. Sometimes, I even enjoy playing hockey with the other athletes on the ice… If I’m learning diligently anywhere, wouldn’t I still be a student?”
As a multi-talented individual who draws well and is comfortable with foreign languages, Lee Haein enjoys conversing with foreign athletes. She mentioned, “I am close with Ilia Malinin, Kaori Sakamoto, Mai Mihara, and others. They loved it when I drew pictures and gave them as gifts.” Lee Haein’s dream is to continue enjoying figure skating for a long time, just like now. She stated, “I would like to participate in the Olympics once, but I want to focus not only on that but also on each competition that is right in front of me.”
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